It is estimated that around one in ten people have dyslexia – a common learning difficulty which can cause problems with reading, writing and spelling. But dyslexia can cause more than just spelling difficulties, because it effects a person’s self-esteem and self-worth. Many dyslexics feel that they are “stupid” or “dumb”, but this is simply not the case. And in fact, most dyslexic students are no different to their non-dyslexic peers in their understanding of their academic subject.
Research shows that many dyslexic students can benefit from using apps to help aid their learning. This is because apps can help dyslexic learners with specific cognitive difficulties making it easier to process particular kinds of information. Apps can also help dyslexic students overcome some of the challenges that come with learning in an environment that isn’t gearerd up to “dyslexic styles of learning” – such as non-interactive lectures and timed, written examinations – which many dyslexic students find hard to do.
This kind of assistive technology is also important in the workplace. And below are my top five apps for iPads for dyslexic learners of any age.
This is a brilliant app that constructs mindmaps – which can be a great tool to help learners see the bigger picture. It basically helps users to capture and organise their ideas. With the app you can quick jot down your ideas and sort them visually.
As a lot of dyslexics are visual learners, being able to make a spider diagram or link ideas helps with organisation. This can be really useful and can save a lot of time, as many dyslexic students spend so much intellectual effort trying to spell and make a grammatical sentence that they can forget what the big picture is. Mind mapping is a great way to show the detail in any big picture.
Sonocent records live talks such as lessons but could also be used in a meeting. It is easy to use and you can highlight key moments in the audio to make it easier to find things later.
The app also allows you to add photos right alongside your audio and type brief notes for further context – which is ideal for lectures.
As most speakers talk very fast, having dyslexia means spending more time physically recording and trying to keep up. These tools are great and can save you a lot of time transcribing.
There are alternatives such as NoteTalker which does a similar job but isn’t free.
Clarospeak is a writing app that provides a list of words for you to select from. It can then read these back to you. It offers a good range of colour and font settings to allow for optimum reading, and word prediction to help with writing. You can also use it to help you proofread any documents or essays by listening back to what you’ve written.
ClaroSpeak Plus is a paid-for version that adds Optical Character Reading to enable any text book to be scanned and edited electronically. It can even capture text from a photo – meaning you can take a photo of your text book and have it read back to you.
PDFs are now used extensively in most walks of life – and especially at university and school. If you have problems with reading, this great little app will help you have PDFs read back to you. An interactive cursor allows users to follow along, pause reading or even repeat lines to ensure reading comprehension.
This app is available for both the iPad and iPhone which means you can read your documents on the go. It works with your email account to directly open PDFs and read them to you.
Clicker Sentences is designed for primary aged learners and provides a grid selection of words for the learner to construct a sentence with.
Pupils tap words in the grid to build sentences in the simple word processor, then hear each sentence automatically spoken aloud as they complete it, helping them to identify any mistakes and make corrections.
It is great for developing young pupils’ writing skills and build struggling writers’ confidence.